Tag Archives: Weapons

Pakistan to have 200 nuclear weapons by 2020: US think tank

By on Monday, November 24th, 2014

Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear weapons program in the world and by 2020 it could have enough fissile material to produce more than 200 nuclear devices, a top American think tank has said.

“Though many states are downsizing their stockpiles, Asia is witnessing a buildup. Pakistan has the fastest-growing nuclear program in the world. By 2020, it could have a stockpile of fissile material that, if weaponized, could produce as many as 200 nuclear devices,” council on foreign relations has said.

The report Strategic Stability in the Second Nuclear Age, authored by George Mason University’s Gregory Koblentz, has identified South Asia as the region “most at risk of a breakdown in strategic stability due to an explosive mixture of unresolved territorial disputes, crossborder terrorism, and growing nuclear arsenals.”

Pakistan, the report said, has deployed or is developing 11 delivery systems for its nuclear warheads, including aircraft, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

“Pakistan has not formally declared the conditions under which it would use nuclear weapons but has indicated that it seeks primarily to deter India from threatening its territorial integrity or the ability of its military to defend its territory,” the report said.

CFR said while Pakistan is focused predominantly on the threat posed by India, it is reportedly also concerned by the potential for the US to launch a military operation to seize or disarm Pakistani nuclear weapons.

“This concern is based in part on reported contingency planning by the US military to prevent Pakistani nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists,” CFR said.

CFR said India is estimated to possess enough fissile material for between 90 and 110 nuclear weapons and is expanding its fissile material production capacity.

China, it said, is estimated to have 250 nuclear weapons for delivery by a mix of medium, intermediate, and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles and bombers.

“Though nuclear arsenals are shrinking in the rest of the world, Asia is witnessing a nuclear buildup. Unlike the remaining P5 countries, China is increasing and diversifying its nuclear arsenal,” the report said.

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Chinese Weapons Winning Battle for Export Market

Chinese-made armaments have become increasingly popular in the international market, according to an industry insider. “We have observed several successive years of good revenue from the export of our products, and the sales figures keep rising year-on-year,” Liu Song, deputy general manager of research and development at China North Industries Corp, popularly abbreviated as Norinco, told China Daily at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition. The show, which closed on Sunday, was held in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.

As the export wing of China North Industries Group Corp, the country’s biggest developer and maker of land armaments, Liu’s company brought to the exhibition 44 weapons in six categories, including armored vehicles, anti-tank missiles and multiple rocket launchers.

“Our exhibits cover almost all weapons an army would probably need,” Liu said. “We came here with two goals: showing the achievement of technological innovation made by China’s ground weapon industry, and making more people know our products.”

Having retained traditional clients in South Asia and Middle East regions, Norinco has been successful in winning new buyers in Africa and South America, according to Liu. “The demand for our products from emerging markets continues to expand, and now a lot of foreign armies are coming to us,” Liu said. Here fused to reveal details such as buyers’ identities and sales volume, citing the company’s confidentiality policy.

Among the exhibits Norinco displayed at the show, the VT-4 main battle tank, was arguably the biggest star.

Formerly designated as MBT-3000, the tank features superb mobility and strong firepower as well as a cutting-edge data exchange network, Liu said.

According to Western military publications, the VT-4 is equipped with an electronic-controlled diesel engine with 1,200 horsepower, giving the tank a cruise speed of 68 kilo-meters per hour. Its main gun is a 125-mm smoothbore that can fire various shells, including a kinetic energy penetrator and high explosive anti-tank warhead. In addition, it can also fire anti-tank missiles with a maximum range of 5,000meters.

“It has an advanced fire-control system, a new-type active protection system and a state-of-the-art fully automatic transmission device,” he said. “In addition, the inter-unit network connects commanders of tanks and armored vehicles under a combat group, enabling them to share battlefield data in real time.”

The VT-4 can compete with any first-class tank used by Western militaries such as the United States’ M1A2 Abrams and Germany’s Leopard 2A6, Liu said, adding that Russia’s T-90 is no match for the Chinese tank in terms of technology.

Other weapons Norinco highlighted at the show included the PLZ-52, a new-generation, 155 mm self-propelled howitzer whose predecessor sold well in the Middle East, and the HJ-12 anti-tank missile, which has fire-and-forget capability and can even hit a helicopter flying at slow speed.

“Many of our products were specifically designed for the overseas market. Their capabilities are as good as those of Western weapons, but the prices are much more competitive,” Liu said.

Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Bloomberg: “The Chinese systems are simply cheaper, they are reliable and they are tailored to the conditions of developing countries. As the systems get more sophisticated, they will under-cut Europe and the US and compete with Russia.”

During a promotion in August in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, diplomats, military officials and defense contractors from 44 countries were given a field performance by Norinco’s VT-4 tanks and combat vehicles.

“Several countries have expressed interest in the VT-4 after their officials saw the tank display, and we are negotiating with them on this matter,” Liu said.

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Saudi, France seal $3 bn weapons deal for Lebanon army

Saudi Arabia and France sealed an agreement Tuesday for Riyadh to finance the delivery of $3 billion worth of French weapons to the Lebanese army, which has come under mounting jihadist attack.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hailed the conclusion of the deal, first announced last December, as a major boost to the Lebanese army’s ability to tackle “terrorism” at a time when the former French colony is under mounting threat.

The deal comes as the poorly equipped Lebanese army battles jihadists, including militants of the Islamic State group, both along its porous border with Syria and in its second city Tripoli.

The deal was signed in Riyadh by Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf and Edouard Guillaud, the head of the ODAS organization set up by France for the export of defence equipment, a diplomat told AFP.

Lebanese army chief General Jean Kahwaji was also present at the ceremony, the diplomat said, without giving details on the list of weapons to be supplied — a clause that had stalled the agreement for months.

A French source told AFP that the contract would now “be rapidly implemented.”

The French foreign minister said: “This agreement, financed through Saudi aid, will contribute to strengthening the Lebanese army, guarantor of Lebanon’s unity and stability.

“It will help it to carry out its mission to defend national territory and fight terrorism, at a time when Lebanon is under threat.”

Lebanon’s main northern city of Tripoli was rocked by three days of devastating fighting between troops and suspected Al-Qaeda loyalists late last month that left at least 11 soldiers and five civilians dead.

In August, troops fought deadly clashes with jihadists of the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front in the town of Arsal close to the Syrian border.

The jihadists withdrew across the border after a truce deal, but took with them several dozen captive Lebanese soldiers and police, three of whom they have since executed.

Last December, OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia agreed to finance a $3 billion package of French military equipment and arms for the Lebanese army.

And in mid-June, at a conference in Rome, the international community pledged its backing for the Lebanese military.

But in September, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said his country was still waiting “impatiently” for the delivery of the French-made weapons.

In August, Saudi Arabia pledged a further $1 billion to strengthen the Lebanese army and last month Washington announced it had delivered a new shipment of Hellfire missiles and would also supply light aircraft.

Announcing the supplies, US ambassador David Hale said the aircraft would be paid for out of the additional Saudi funding.

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Germany to send anti-tank weapons, rifles to Iraqi Kurds

Germany will send anti-tank rocket launchers, rifles and hand grenades to support Iraqi Kurds battling ISIS militants fighting for the Islamic State, the defence ministry announced Sunday.

The move followed a meeting of ministers led by Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to discuss what Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen described as an “extremely critical” situation in Iraq.

Islamic State (IS) militants are acting with “merciless brutality”, she told a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, adding the international community had to support the persecuted.

The equipment, which will be delivered in three stages, will include 30 anti-tank missiles, 16,000 assault rifles, 8,000 pistols as well as portable anti-tank rocket launchers, the defence ministry said.

As well as weapons, Germany plans to send other items such as tents, helmets and radio equipment, according to a list from the defence ministry.

The first deliveries of German weapons will be able to equip about 4,000 soldiers by the end of September, von der Leyen said.

The equipment, which has been taken out of German army reserves, is valued at 70 million euros ($92 million), the defence ministry said on its website.

“The terror group, Islamic State, is a deadly threat for hundreds of thousands,” Steinmeier told reporters.

Germany said on August 20 that it was ready to send weapons to support the Iraqi Kurds.

The Sunni IS and its allies control swathes of both northern and western Iraq and neighboring northeastern Syria, where they have committed a spate of atrocities that have shocked the world.

Sending military hardware is unusual for Germany which, burdened by its past aggression in two world wars, often shies away from foreign military engagements and as a rule does not export weapons into live conflict zones.

Critics oppose the idea of sending weapons to a war zone where fighters and arms can quickly change sides.

Germany’s decision follows similar moves by several other countries, including the US, Italy, France and Britain.

Chancellor Merkel will address a special session of the Bundestag lower house of parliament on the issue Monday, after which lawmakers will hold a non-binding vote.

The government shift has been politically difficult in Germany, where recent opinion polls have shown broad opposition to arms shipments to Iraq.

A total of 60 percent of respondents were against the idea, and only 34 percent in favor, in an Infratest dimap poll for ARD public television taken on August 26 and 27, and published Friday.

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Russia delivering weapons to Iraq: report

Russia has begun supplying military helicopters and fighters jets to Iraq, a report said Thursday, as Iraq’s defence minister visited Moscow to press for equipment to thwart a jihadist offensive.

“A number of contracts with Iraq have entered into force and are being fulfilled,” the Interfax news agency quoted a source in Russia’s defence export establishment as saying.

Deliveries of Mi-35 helicopter gunships and Su-25 fighters that provide close air support for ground troops have begun, added the source.

Iraq also has contracts for Mi-28 attack helicopters and mobile Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air and anti-aircraft artillery systems.

Russia’s ambassador to Baghdad Ilya Mogunov had previously said he believed up to 10 Sukhoi fighter jets would be delivered by the end of the summer.

Russia and Iraq in 2012 signed contracts worth $4.2 billion (3.1 billion euros) to supply 36 of the Mi-28 attack helicopters and 48 of the Pantsir units, according to Russian Technologies (RosTec) which controls their producers

Later it signed contracts for six Mi-35 helicopters and Su-25 fighters.

Iraqi officials said Wednesday that Defence Minister Saadun al-Dulaimi had left for Moscow in a bid to step up military cooperation.

“Dulaimi will meet the Russian defence minister and other officials to urge them to provide Iraq with weapons, equipment and modern military aircraft,” Staff Lieutenant General Mohammed al-Askari told AFP.

The Russian defence industry source told Interfax that given the increased tensions following the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet over a region in Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia rebels, Washington may pressure Baghdad to cancel its orders for Russian weaponry.

Despite the billions of dollars spent on training and equipment by the United States during its eight-year occupation, Iraq’s million-strong army completely folded when insurgents attacked last month.

Within days, the Islamic State jihadist group and allied Sunni factions conquered Iraq’s second city of Mosul and large swathes of the north and west.

The front lines have since stabilized and Baghdad has already received intelligence assistance from Washington and Sukhoi warplanes from Russia and Iran.

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New method discovered to protect against chemical weapons

By on Friday, May 30th, 2014

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that some compounds called polyoxoniobates can degrade and decontaminate nerve agents such as the deadly sarin gas, and have other characteristics that may make them ideal for protective suits, masks or other clothing.

The use of polyoxoniobates for this purpose had never before been demonstrated, scientists said, and the discovery could have important implications for both military and civilian protection. A United Nations report last year concluded that sarin gas was used in the conflict in Syria.

Some other compounds exist that can decontaminate nerve gases, researchers said, but they are organic, unstable, degraded by sunlight and have other characteristics that make them undesirable for protective clothing – or they are inorganic, but cannot be used on fabrics or surfaces.

By contrast, the polyoxoniobates are inorganic, do not degrade in normal environmental conditions, dissolve easily and it should be able to incorporate them onto surfaces, fabrics and other material.

“This is a fundamental new understanding of what these compounds can do,” said May Nyman, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry in the OSU College of Science. “As stable, inorganic compounds they have an important potential to decontaminate and protect against these deadly nerve gases.”

As a chemical group, polyoxoniobates have been known of since the mid-1900s, Nyman said, but a detailed investigation of their complex chemistry has revealed this new potential. Besides protection against nerve gas, she said, their chemistry might allow them to function as a catalyst that could absorb carbon dioxide and find use in carbon sequestration at fossil-fuel power plants – but little has been done yet to explore that potential.

A new method to protect against nerve agents could be significant. These organofluorophosphate compounds can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin, and in military use are considered weapons of mass destruction. They can be lethal even at very small levels of exposure.

“In continued work we hope to incorporate the protective compounds onto surfaces or fabrics and explore their function,” Nyman said. “They could form the basis for an improved type of gas mask or other protection. We would also need to test the material’s ability to withstand very arid environments, extreme heat or other conditions.”

A goal will be materials that are durable, high performing and retain a high level of protection against nerve agents such as sarin and soman gas even in harsh environmental conditions, researchers said.

The OSU research demonstrated the ability of polyoxoniobates to neutralize both actual and simulated nerve agents. Testing against actual nerve agents was done at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, a U.S. Army facility designed for that purpose.

OSU has collaborated on this research with Sandia National Laboratories and the U.S. Army. The work at Edgewood was supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a unit of the U.S. Department of Defense.

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Libya militia stole US weapons in raid: report

Militia fighters stole hundreds of American-supplied automatic weapons and other equipment in a raid on a Libyan base where the US was training local forces, bringing an abrupt end to the secretive program, a report said Tuesday.

Elite US troops have been tasked since last year with covertly forming local counterterrorism units in Libya, Mauritania, Niger and Mali, part of US efforts to widen the war against Al-Qaeda affiliates in Africa, The New York Times reported, citing American officials.

It has been financed in part with millions of dollars in classified Pentagon spending, the Times said, and involves instructing and equipping “handpicked” commandos in the four countries, with the hope the teams will eventually be able to take on fighters like Boko Haram.

But the initiative has endured several setbacks, notably in Libya, where the training was suddenly cut short in August last year when a group of armed militia fighters overpowered a small Libyan guard force at a training camp outside the capital Tripoli, the newspaper said.

As well as automatic weapons, the fighters seized night-vision goggles and vehicles, it added, saying that American instructors were promptly sent home. US officials are now looking for a more secure site to get the program going again.

“But last summer’s debacle and the political upheaval in Libya since then have caused American officials to rethink how they select local personnel,” the Times said.

The American trainers had issued the Libyans M4 automatic rifles and Glock pistols, and the Libyans were responsible for safeguarding them at a warehouse. But all were taken in the pre-dawn raid on August 4, believed carried out by a local militia that overpowered the Libyan guards.

The American trainers were not at the training camp at the time because they would usually stay at a nearby villa, leading to suspicions that the theft was an “inside job.”

Much of the equipment was later recovered, but some news reports suggested at least some of the weapons had gone on sale on the black market, the report said.

“The take-away here is they’re going to take a lot more adult supervision to make sure the checks and balances are in place, so you don’t have outside militia taking over,” the Times quoted a former American Special Operations officer as saying.

The program in Mali has failed to get off the ground as the new civilian government struggles to recover from a coup.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, is spending nearly $15 million in Niger on a new counterterrorism unit there, the Times said, and $29 million in Mauritania.

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